Surrey Lib Dems attack “brutal” Tory cuts as millions are slashed from services
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems
Liberal Democrat councillors have strongly criticised the Conservative-run County Council's plans to axe millions from essential services for Surrey residents, which were finally revealed today.
Road safety and highways budgets will be hit as millions of pounds are taken away from essential Surrey services, and there will be a £735K reduction in the public transport budget as bus services are cut or removed altogether. The Council also plans to save over £1m by reducing the number of the well-used Community Recycling Facilities (CRCs) in the county, making it harder for people to recycle and increasing the risk of fly-tipping.
The cuts also include over £27m from the Adult Social Care budget, as well as increased charges for those in care homes and cuts to grants to support voluntary organisations. Another £22m from the Children, Families and Schools budget will be axed, with millions taken from supporting children with special educational needs' and disabilities, as well as over £3m from Public Health, which supports highly vulnerable residents in the community.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said today:
"Funding for highways, road safety and bus services is being taken away by the Conservative administration at County Hall, as it desperately seeks to balance the books after years of poor spending decisions and a lack of financial planning. It is appalling that at the same time, the budget for the Council's communications department has seen only a small decrease.
"The Tories have also chosen to cut millions and millions of pounds from services that support elderly and disabled people in Surrey. They are targeting services that help children with special needs as well as cutting support for vulnerable people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems. It is simply incredible that these groups of people should bear the brunt of the cuts, caused by the poor stewardship of Surrey's finances by the Conservatives, as well as central government's unwillingness to fund public services adequately.
"We are now in a situation of crisis management at County Hall. Front line services for residents are being cut whilst at the same time the county council remains over-reliant on expensive agency staff costing millions of pounds each year. The county council needs to rationalize its office space and use its own resources more efficiently, to save money.
"Neighbouring county councils have recently received a larger increase in government funding for adult social care than Surrey. Government must be lobbied much more effectively in the future for Surrey to get its fair share of funding. The failure to do so has led to millions of pounds of cuts which will have such a detrimental impact on services for Surrey residents".
The proposed savings can be found here (p39 onwards with more detailed commentary from p213):